Have you ever wondered why Beaujolais wine tastes like banana?
Some Gamay and Pinot Noir-based wines are made by using carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration. As traditional fermentation, these methods also create alcohol but without any yeast. The grapes are harvested and then, instead of being crushed, the whole bunches with stems are placed in a vat or tank.
Fermentation begins, CO2 rises to the top in the case of semi-carbonic, or is pumped over in a blanket in the case of full-carbonic, and the whole thing ferments in this anaerobic environment, protected by the carbon dioxide. This lack of oxygen causes a biochemical form of fermentation to begin inside the grape berry, known as intracellular fermentation, that makes them explode when the level of alcohol in the grape reaches 2%.
Carbonic and semi-carbonic macerations extract more colour, but little tannin, from the grapes, making softer wines with a fresher character. These methods are also responsible for the distinctive aromas of read fruit, banana and kirsch in the finished wine.
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Amsterdam, May 6th 2020